Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

A Mother’s Hands

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Your hands

have touched all our lives

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Imprinting the depth

of a mother’s love

from generation

to generation

Love compelled

by the greatest

love of all

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Your hands

folded in prayer

ushered His presence into our lives

with every whispered word

His covering

His mercy

His goodness

His love

touching our lives

through a mother’s hands

To my mother, Sammy Stinnett

Beautiful Mother, Grandmother, and

Great-Grandmother

You are dearly loved

Happy Mother’s Day

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Renamed

I am not one of those people who remembers names well.  I am really good with faces, but not so much with the names that go with the faces.  I am working on it.

In my professional life I was a classroom trainer, providing education and skill development in the field of sales.  At any given time, there would be anywhere from 5 to 25 in my classroom.  Our office administrator was efficient in preparing both sticky name tags to be worn and standing tent cards for each person registered for class.  You would think that their name plastered on their chest and labeled at their places at the table would be sufficient for me to call each of them by the correct name.  Not really.

Have you ever had a name just stick in your brain that wasn’t the right one?  Several years ago I had a gentleman in my class named Kevin.  I don’t know why, but in my head he evidently looked like he should be called John.   He was in my class every day for an entire week and I repeatedly called him John rather than Kevin.  It was embarrassing and I apologized over and over, yet it just seemed to keep coming out my mouth when addressing him.  Being a very good-natured fellow, by day three he had marked out the name Kevin on his tent card and written in John!  Evidently he found it too much trouble to continue to correct me each time and agreed to be John for that week.

There are many people who don’t like the names they were given at birth and take the steps to legally change them.  I suspect, however, that the majority of folks who don’t really like the monikers chosen for them have just learned to live with it.  They may go through their whole lives experiencing this little cringe every time they hear their name.

In biblical times and still in certain cultures today, names are chosen for their meanings, not just how the sound rolls off the tongue or whether or not it will be an attention-getter.  When a parent named a child, they were speaking their desires for the character development and the future of that child.  When God chose certain people to accomplish His plans, He often changed their names:  Abram became Abraham, Sarai became Sarah, Jacob became Israel, Saul became Paul.  These people found their true identity in the new name God had given them.

So what name identifies you?  Shame?  Regret?  Failure?  Perhaps Depression?  Unloved?  Abused?  Worthless?

One of my favorite songs is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.  Here are a few lines:

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear you whisper “child lift up your head”
I remember oh God you’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, you set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain
Now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
’cause his day is long dead and gone because
I’ve got a new name, a new life I’m not the same
and a hope that will carry me home

Abram meant “high father”, Abraham meant “the father of many or of multitude”.  One of the meanings of the name Sarai meant “argumentative”…interesting.  Sarah meant Princess.  When God changed Abraham’s name, he didn’t go around calling himself or Sarah by their old names.  He took the new ones.  He didn’t introduce himself by saying “God calls me Abraham, but my real name is Abram.”  He no longer had his old identity, he had a new one.  A new one full of promise and hope and faith.  (Genesis 17)

God has given you many new names:  Redeemed, Forgiven, Righteous, Sanctified, and many more.  My personal favorite?  Beloved. He has given me a new identity and wants me to no longer define myself by the old.  I don’t have to explain it to anyone and it doesn’t really matter if they don’t believe it.  It’s mine.  I’ve got a new name.

What do you call yourself?  You know the Bible says you’re righteous, but do you continue to identify with your sin more than your righteousness?  You know the Bible says you are loved, but do you live out your days with the emptiness of rejection from your past rather than experiencing the passionate love God has for you?

If so, it’s time to realize that God didn’t just give you these new names because they sound good.  They now define who He has made you.  They speak into your character development and your future as His child.  These new names were given to fill you with promise and hope and faith.

You’ve been renamed.  Take it!

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

Some things just shouldn’t be rushed

My morning coffee.  I thoroughly enjoy this process of breaking through the clouds of slumber into consciousness once again. Jumping out of bed and grabbing a cup to go just doesn’t do it for me.  (And of course a good post shouldn’t be rushed, as evidenced by the fact that I inadvertently clicked publish rather than save earlier today….)

This morning as I was enjoying my java and the new rhythm of my life, things came to mind that just shouldn’t be rushed:

Gently rocking a newborn baby.

Watching the sunrise or the sunset.

The healing of a broken soul.

Listening.  Really listening.

Praise and worship.

My thoughts progressed to things that just can’t be rushed:

The making of a butterfly in a cocoon.

The sculpting of stone into an intricate masterpiece.

A very phlegmatic child.  I had one of these.  If you have one, you know what I mean.

Spiritual maturity.

God’s plan.

Even when we are given glimpses into the plans God is working in our lives, we cannot rush Him.  We cannot make His purposes unfold before His appointed time.  I believe this is one of the many reasons He tells us to rest.   He wants us to have vision, to be able to see the unseen, to hope in what is not yet evidenced in our natural realm.  But He had no intention for our eyes to be so set on the future that we miss today.

I am learning more every day about living in today.  Not yesterday or tomorrow, but resting in the fact that whatever is on my plate for this day, He is with me.  He is leading me through the purpose for my life one day at a time. Not one day is insignificant to Him or His plans.  Even the days I mess up, He is able to weave into His great plan and redeem them.  He asks me to trust Him and cooperate with Him.  He knows what He’s doing.

No one has ever walked the face of this earth with a greater sense of purpose than Jesus.  He knew what He was born to do and He knew that it could not be rushed.   Throughout His childhood and young adulthood what was He busy doing?  Growing.  Physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Even when His public ministry began, He would not be rushed.  He was pressured to be someone He wasn’t called to be, pressured to do things He wasn’t called to do.  Even by His family:

So His brothers said to Him, Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples there may also see the works that You do.  This is no place for You.  For no one does anything in secret when he wishes to be conspicuous and secure publicity.  If You must do these things – if You must act like this – show Yourself openly and make yourself known to the world!”  John 7:3-4

They didn’t believe in Him and their voices were full of mockery.  His activities made them uncomfortable.  He didn’t fit in and they preferred to live their lives apart from Him.  His response?

“My time has not come yet…”  John 7:6

He wasn’t just talking about His death.  His death and resurrection were the culmination of all that He was sent to do.  How often do we find ourselves “doing things for God” that He never called us to do?  Jesus lived His life so in tune to the Father that He only did what the Father said to do.  Nothing more, nothing less.  There are times people pressure us to be someone we were not called to be and do things we were not called to do.  Many times this pressure is self-imposed.

He has given me a glimpse of the plan He is working at this stage in my life and it excites me greatly.  Trusting Him with each day has brought great relief in knowing that I am not in charge of this big plan for my life to be purposeful.  He is.  And if I will simply cooperate with Him day by day, doing and saying only the things He prompts, He will fulfill all He desires and it will be good.

It just can’t be rushed.

 

Bible, Christian, Encouragement, Faith, God, Jesus, Spiritual, Uncategorized

The best gifts

I have been working on a gift for my mother for over two years.  It has involved connecting with family members both near and far which cannot be accomplished overnight or on a shoestring travel budget.  From its inception in my imagination, this gift has brought hours of delight as I have designed it.  I had no intention of it taking two years. There were times I tried to rush it, efforts that brought only frustration and diminished the joy in creating it.  So I relinquished my timetable and accepted that it would come together at just the right time.

The true joy of preparing this particular gift comes from knowing my mother.  I know what she holds dear and I know many of her favorite things.  She will know that this has been a labor of love and she will gracefully receive all the love that has been poured into this project.  This gift is especially for her.  My family members may appreciate it and find it enjoyable, but she will treasure it.  Not because it came from me particularly, but because it will speak to her love for her family.  And it will tell her how very much she is loved right back.  Others may look at it and find it nice or interesting, but they will never experience it as she does.  I know her.

There will not be an exaggerated response upon her receiving this gift.  That’s just not her.  There will be no flowery speeches or mushy, emotional scenes.  But I will see it in her face, if only for a moment, and it will delight me to be able to tell her I love her in this way, which is the true purpose of the gift – to tell her I love her.  I know her.  Even if she doesn’t like it as much as I imagine she will, she is my mother and she will pretend to love it.  This will make me love her even more.

It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.  (Acts 10:35)

As this week I have put the final touches on this gift in hopes of its readiness by Mother’s Day, I’ve had to ask myself how often I’ve put this much time and effort and love into the gifts I give to God.

Do I anticipate with delight presenting myself to Him in worship?  Do I think about it?  Do I plan for it?  Do I know Him well enough to know what He holds dear?  Or do I go through the motions of having a morning quiet time, seeing it only as a time I want to receive something from Him rather than give to Him?  Do I fumble around during the praise time of Sunday service rather than focus on lifting my voice to Him?  Do I see my attention to His word proclaimed through a sermon as a gift to Him – something I can give to Him because I love Him so much?  Do I mechanically place my monetary offering in the plate without forethought of what an offering really is?  Do I delight in giving Him gifts?

My mother knows I love her.  I don’t have to give her gifts to prove it.  Her love isn’t swayed to love me less if I don’t come bearing gifts.  Neither does she love me more when I do.  I don’t worry if my gifts will be acceptable to her.   The joy in gift-giving is the delight of the love from which it originates.

God’s love for us is unshakable.  It is neither swayed by gifts nor the absence of them.  But He knows that we are truly blessed when we come to Him, giving the gifts of our attention, our time, our offerings, our praise.   He is by nature the Gift-giver.  We cannot out-give Him.  And we need not worry if our gift is acceptable to Him.  The joy in the giving of ourselves is the delight of the love from which it originates.  The love we have for Him came from Him.

“The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior!  He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest and in His love He will be silent and make no mention of past sins, or even recall them; He will exult over you with singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

Let’s live our lives as gift-givers to God – perhaps we’ll hear Him singing!!